Reverend Paul Flowers is the hapless man at the centre of the recent Co-operative banking scandal that has brought the ‘ethical’ bank to its knees. The Rev Flowers is a Methodist Minister. You will be familiar with his church: they don’t like drinking alcohol or gambling and oppose any legislation that relaxes the law on either. He was supposedly qualified to run a bank because he worked for NatWest when he was 19 years of age for four years. When questioned by MPs he said “I would judge that [working for Nat West] experience is out of date in terms of the needs of contemporary banking.” Few would disagree.
He then went on to tell the select committee of MPs that the Co-op bank’s balance sheet was worth £3 billion in assets when the answer was actually £47 billion.
Then we come to his personal misdemeanours. The list is long and not necessary to repeat.
But the question I ask is what were the regulators doing who are supposed to interview the applicants for a senior post at a bank, scrutinise their past performance and history to see they are fit and proper and have the ability to run a bank.
The answer might be found in the dog collar.
Janice Turner wrote in The Times that the Co-op should return to its Methodist roots and inspire the fight against drink, gambling and addiction. Of course she had to draw attention to the number of betting shops on the High Street, Wonga and the 2005 Gambling Act which she says allowed all this. In fact it did not. It was the gross profits tax which created the value punters like so much on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
Turner urges Labour to turn to its Methodist roots, something I doubt Ed Milliband will do.
In recent years the UK gambling industry has seen the payout to customers reach an all time high because of competition between operators and with very high standards of probity. But the sector is now being exposed to more regulation, red tape and total nonsense that benefit no one, least of all the consumer.
Can anyone tell me please what benefit the UK’s Gambling Act 2005 has had from the gambler’s perspective? In what way is he better off because of it? You can email me on email@example.com
– that all software suppliers must be licensed in the UK as well as the operator;
– The proposed social responsibility code means that operators will be responsible for contractually obliging third party suppliers to comply with all the LCCP and they commit an offence if they don’t have this in their contracts and act upon it.
The irony is that the Rev. Paul Flowers and his followers have probably been advising Government about gambling law. So what does this debacle mean for the finance industry and gambling? More not less regulation.
Government has not cottoned on yet that the regulators cannot put a plaster on every sore, stop every misdemeanour before it happens and regulate accordingly. Strange as it may seem, the regulation of the finance industry often spills over to the other transaction based industries so when you think bankers are getting their just desserts just remember more, not less, regulation will be coming your way too.